Both cultivated food and wild food are important carriers for cultural heritage. Nevertheless, wild food has a broader role in connecting people to the cultural landscapes they live in. First of all, wild food is commonly provided on a very local scale. Cultivated food products are commonly traded on a globalized market, while for collecting wild plants, mushrooms, or game people commonly travel a few hours maximum. Secondly, collecting wild food involves a range of traditional and local knowledge, on, for example, taste and palatability of plants, identifying plants in the wild, knowing where to find them, and navigating in the landscape.
Collecting wild food is an appreciated activity. A previous study indicates that at least 14% of the European population collects food from the wild while at least 25% consumes wild food. In some countries, wild fruit comprises a considerable part of the fruit consumption, but for most of the people, wild food collecting is not a necessity for acquiring nutrients. Mostly, people collect wild food as a recreational activity. They like being active outdoors. Picking fruit, vegetables or berries or hunting makes people feel connected to the landscape, and many appreciate the collected food as ingredients for traditional dishes.
Currently, two trends on wild food collecting can be observed in Europe. On the one hand, in many countries wild food collecting is a traditional activity, mostly done by the elderly and hardly transferred to younger generations. In these cases, the tradition and the traditional knowledge associated with wild food collecting is at risk. In other regions, mostly affluent and urban areas, on the other hand, ongoing globalization is believed to trigger a higher appreciation of the own region. In these regions, a re- appreciation of wild food in restaurants is seen, as well as local initiatives to teach people again how to collect and use wild food. For example, in the Netherlands, where there is little traditional wild food collecting culture, over the past years "smulbossen" (banquet forests) have been established, where citizens could collect walnuts and fruits for their own use.
This blog contribution is part of a series on the science and practice of landscape stewardship and will be further elaborated in the course of a book chapter.
We are looking for real-world cases of good practices that exemplify the principles of landscape stewardship and that serve as a model to inspire implementation in other landscapes. Please share examples or thoughts by adding a comment!
Image Credit: Nynke SchulpThe information and views set out in this Cultural Landscapes Blog are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the HERCULES project nor the European Commission.
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